Friday, May 30, 2014

Theory Of Camping Mandates All Vehicles Packed To Maximum

Not my ride. But if it were it would be just as jam-packed.

My Unified Theory of Recreation is if one goes camping the vehicle, no matter the size, will be packed to maximum capacity, always.

This was certainly true with the RV owners, who far from enjoying a plethora of extra space, filled the blank spots with bread machines and strings of festive lights.

The Portdaddia crew was lucky to ride in the finest vehicle ever made, a 2001 Nissan Maxima. And yes we packed it out, with roof box and bike rack on the back. We actually had some extra space, but a bag of tortilla chips nicely took care of that.

I remember the panic I felt when I was overwhelmed with the gear of babies, strollers and diapers and squeeze toys. Camping is similar, a veritable tsunami of bags within bags, packed in boxes and strapped to the side of the car.

I can't say I wish to be a minimalist, for I do appreciate a good chip with dip, but I like to surmise on the state of my camping experience should the Maxima be replaced with a Smart Car.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Insane On The Membrane (And Less Messy): Banana Boats

Dark chocolate takes this dish to new heights.
Forget S'mores because they suck. Their suckiness is foremost attributed to the difficulty of having consistent dispersion of ingredients so that all flavors combine for more than one bite. Also, achieving adequate chocolate softening is difficult over a campfire, to say the least.

Plus when you eat a S'more you get sticky hands; and as you are camping washing them is a pain in the ass.

I suppose the "purists" will tell you that such is the appeal of the S'more. Perhaps. I also suppose there are "purists" who insist wheeled human-powered transport starts with the unicycle and ends with the 26" Men's Huffy Bike.

As a blogger I embrace the dawning of a new, frictionless age of information and aluminum foil, whereby the "Banana Boat" can replace the stultifying tradition of the campfire S'more.

The directions are easy: Take a banana and split it down the middle; stuff it with chocolate and marshmallow; wrap it in foil; and set it in a campfire for 5 minutes.

The banana caramelizes and becomes a sweet, creamy base for the melted chocolate and marshmallow. I eat it with a spoon, neatly enjoying every bite.

There will always be those who will shackle you to inferior dessert technology and stale Graham crackers, but you don't need to blithely accept this crappy reality. The year is 2014, the time, now: Banana Boats.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

And Lemon Bars For All!

These night-vision goggles are a hit with both kids -- and they look fantastic. There is no relevance to the illustration and the post's topic today.
Tonight we are eating lemon bars.

To give a quick recap on the situation, last night I promised to buy a fancy dessert today if the daughter did her homework last night.

Although we had a contract that wasn't exactly fullfilled to the letter (math didn't get done), I declared success largely because the daughter kept her sense of humor and left our bedroom at 10:07 pm.

The daughter put in some good concentration and I certainly deserved a fancy dessert!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bribery Is Often The Best Policy For Homework

Coercion and persuasion have not been effective.
My daughter has a problem with homework. She worries about how she will complete her assignments, the stress of which then becomes an obstacle to completing her assignments.

I've tried the punishment method, but that only yielded an angry daughter who felt parents were unfair.

I've also tried to link future presidential bids on whether or not her 6th grade humanities homework had been completed on time. Her answer was that a political operative would fabricate the homework, or the PR person would help her spin incomplete homework to her advantage and she could say: "I was a maverick, going my own way, asking my own questions, starting in the 6th grade."

Today the daughter came home in an optimistic mood and together we crafted a document that potentially could be grounding-breaking. The homework could get done and the entire family could enjoy a fancy dessert.

A point of reference, the creature Turtwig, a Pokemon, is a source of merriment in our home for the name sounds like "Turd-twig" when spoken. That's why they call `em kids, for they act like children.

(I was actually the one to make this particular poop joke.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Camping On Memorial Weekend An Excellent Tradition

Zombie hunting across large swaths of land in eastern Oregon was one activity we all enjoyed.

Can't say enough what a good time I had with the gang in the Deschutes State Recreation Area camp.

Apologies for the lack of better footage for the highly excellent adventure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#343 Of The Series "What The Hell Is It?"

I think these bags became irrelevant in the 1980s.

When I pulled this out of the closet I didn't even attempt to show the kids, or explain what emulsion "film" was all about.

Instead I uttered a thankful prayer that we were in such a great age of photography -- never has a camera (phone) been more often in my hand. 

The purists would argue that I go all "Ansel Freakin' Adams" even less frequently now because of the butt-cheap nature of pixels; that and crappy pictures are ubiquitous. The argument being that the expense of film made snapping the shutter a more rarefied experience which resulted in a more considered final product.

Shamelessly I've sold all my film cameras (except those that belonged to my parents)  and have embraced the dark side. But whatever lack of consideration I may encounter is more than compensated by the sheer awesomeness of being able to snap away to my heart's content.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nine-year-old Outlines Goals For Summer

A scan of the source document.

The kid is excited about summer. So excited he wrote down and officially submitted (to me) his primary objectives. They include:

  • Summiting Dog Mountain (we turned back last year).
  • Complete hike of Cathryn Creek trail
  • Kill all the Nazi Zombies ( a reference to a father-son Black Ops activity)  
  • Ribs and watermelon and coleslaw and (grilled) peppers and mushrooms
  • Launch a river mission to take the peninsula (A stand-up paddleboard mission)
Will keep everyone posted on where we are on the list.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Educational Video Game Montage By The Kid

The sacred activity of Minecraft reigns supreme in our home.
Over the weekend the kid had a vision: to make a video montage to illustrate the scope and breadth of video gaming.

This may have had something to do with school, but it seems he is selling the concept to his teacher after the fact. Not a problem, for creativity need not be predicated on whether or not such is a homework assignment.

Here is what he came up with -- all edits and music were his selections.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Daddy Blogger Forgets Prime Directive: It's Supposed To Be All About The Kids

The graph shows a windy day in the Columbia Gorge.
I was going to link this to something some kid said sometime, but I just can't be bothered.

Today I proclaim my stoke for all the blessings and let the chips fall where they may.

The daughter designed this graphic so in a way I am still a Daddy Blogger. Stoke!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Utility As "Math Dad" Finally Expires

I was hoping to hang in there past the sixth grade, but no.
Last night I got stumped. The kid needed help with understanding the difference between a proportion and a ratio, or maybe it was cross multiplying a variable with a consonant. I've been bluffing along quite happily until last night.

The gig as "Math Dad" has expired most suddenly.

Originally my exit strategy was to use the internet as a resource to learn scientific math-y words to confuse my daughter. "It's just too complicated for you," I would say in a gentle tone. "I think it best you work with your teachers to phrase these expression more associatively, in the Cartesian way, if you get my drift."

Then she would look at me with awe that I knew the true workings of the universe, but, somehow, had difficulty explaining myself.

Instead she looked at her notes, figured the problem out on her own, and gave me a brief tutorial on the arithmetic.

At least I can lord it over her that I can drive and she can't -- I have that much for a few more years.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Family Guilty Pleasure -- "Bob's Burgers"

The Belchers: Louise, Gene, Tina, Linda, Bob

Somehow the trials of the Belcher family of the television show "Bob's Burgers" is the new must-watch show of our home.

I had a jaded view of animated cartoon families and thought there could be no new exciting comic characters after such shows as the "The Simpsons" or "Family Guy."

Louise and Gene perhaps strike our funny bone the hardest as their characters embody an earnest, yet misdirected, striving of childhood.

Like the best comedies, I see myself in any number of the show's wacky situations -- the main point of agreement is when the absolute nuttiness of a family's standard operating procedure is held up to scrutiny. What parent hasn't thought that if a camera ever recorded what routinely goes on in the house such would be the oddest assemblage of video footage ever?

And the quick joke in the opening sequence adds an extra bit of excitement -- good work Fox!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Random Business Expropriates Blogger Speak

I'm not going to sue, but am hoping for some muffins.

Regrets, I've had a few, for instance: not being more trademark savvy with the word "stoke."

I did not travel 3,000 miles to proclaim ordinary stoke.

Stoke proclamation is the essence of what we do here.
Official Stoke Sloth of our home. All others are merely "mascots".

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oregon's 2014 Letters About Literature Honors The Kid

The ceremony was an excellent experience as we were able to hear many of the other letters written by students.

A big day for us as we went to the state capitol in Salem for the kid to receive an award for her participation in Oregon's 2014 Letters About Literature contest. You can read her letter here.

The librarians at the State Library knew their stuff, having cookies and juice on hand as well as running a terrific awards ceremony.

The highlights were when the students read their letters, all which were thoughtful, intelligent, and usually involving a significant personal experience.

Many of the students were from small towns which made me feel a love of literature is universal and that there must be good teachers out there to have encouraged the kids to write. The variety of the books read, the tone and scope of the letters, all left me feeling humanity was on the right track.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Parenting Wisdom: Notes Are Fun (For Me, At Least)

Notes like these are always a hit, at least for a while.

The above notes were written by LSS for the nine-year-old and placed in his lunch box.

The pyridoxine hydrochloride reference refers to a running joke in our home that one should never eat what he/she cannot pronounce. "Hummus anyone?"

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blue Star Doughnuts Gets Panned By The Kids

Perhaps a bit too twee for the children.
The other night we had high-end fancy-pants doughnuts. Although they tasted good, the kids declared that they preferred the regular doughnuts, meaning those with such flavors as Boston Cream, Jelly, Chocolate Glazed, Apple Fritter, and the like.

The Blue Star doughnuts that we sampled included Pistachio Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée, Passion Fruit and Almond, and some dark chocolate things.

Service was slow (for a regular doughnut shop, but not if you compare it to Voodoo Doughnuts). The cashier earnestly asked me how I was while handing me the credit card slip to sign -- it was one of those where the customer needed to write in the total, supposedly prompting me to tip him.

The nine-year-old said, "This is the Salt and Straw of doughnuts." Indeed.

I'm proud of the kids that they were able to identity an over-produced food item. Sometimes a doughnut should just be a....doughnut.

The artisan doughnut-maker carefully works his magic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Artist Comments On His Work, Life, And Times

"Society of Criminals" the artist considers his masterwork.

An interview with the artist concerning his creative process.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Third-grader Launches Major Art Retrospective

"The Base" is representative of 2013 major works as it treats themes of alien conquest, war, and the irreducible eloquence of the human spirit with the wit and charm only a 9-year-old can muster.
My son announced he was ready for more of his art to be put on the blog. He ended up giving me over 100 drawings from second and third grade.

"The Concert" explores the escapades of an imaginary band called "The Zit." In this work the artist turns away from conflict and destruction to celebrate the simple joys of a peasant dance.

Perhaps more emblematic of the second grade drawings, "WWII (part 1) deals with the trauma of war and suffering unleashed by an unfeeling Captain America who represents a hegemonic United States.

"WWII (part 2) links thematically to part 1, dramatically creating a mechanized Götterdämmerung, deconstructing our fascination with destruction. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Jump Scare Continues To Be Big Hit with 9-year-old

The kid was excited about surprising his teacher.

Engagement at school is always a tricky thing. If jump scaring the teacher brings the kid closer to doing productive work, I'm all for it.

I like being jump scared at home, for it presents a fine opportunity for inversion!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

One Of My Favorite Books: "All My Friends Are Dead"

As kids grow they encounter the difficulties of the world, disappointments, setbacks. This book deals with such things with a delightful black humor and a thoughtful message of hope and forebearance:

Sometimes I feel alone. Some days are long and hard. but when I look out into the world, I am struck by the impossible beauty of it all. Those billions of magnificent accidents that led us to where we are today, that led us to paper planes and nautilus shells and the tiny, crooked smiles of children. When I think about all the small perfections of the world, I have faith that my time will come. I have faith that someday, a warm light will flood over me and I will find peace.